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Featured Spotlight

Graduate student helps faculty use innovative technology in the classroom

March 23, 2012

Jeff Everhart

Projecting a Twitter feed in the classroom to display student questions and comments in real time.

Having students text their answers to a survey or quickly poll how many people in a class understand a concept.

Identifying biases in an author's Wikipedia biography to explore the concept of public information.

These are all examples of the ways Longwood University is integrating new technologies into face-to-face and distance-learning environments. Through the newly formed Digital Education Collaborative (DEC) unit, which is based in the College of Graduate and Professional Studies (CGPS), the university is poised to utilize new technologies to enhance faculty presentation and content delivery while achieving high levels of student interaction.

Jeff Everhart, a graduate student in English who is working with the DEC, said one of the program's goals is to assist faculty in thoughtfully and proactively integrating technology into the classroom in ways that are specific to course content.

"By creating assignments that use technology in meaningful and relevant ways, we are encouraging students to participate in a medium that they already feel comfortable in, and we're reinforcing the skills they need after graduation," Everhart said. "It's not just technology for technology's sake."

One of Everhart's tasks has been to research how other universities are integrating technology into the classroom. He said he was surprised to find that many of them do not have a central department leading technology efforts.

"We're really setting Longwood up to be a leader in distance learning by proactively developing innovative uses for instructional technology and cutting-edge ways to deliver course content," Everhart said. "Longwood faculty will be able to streamline and enhance their courses, and students get hands-on experience to prepare them to become 'digital citizens.'"

Everhart assists DEC staff members Nicholas Langlie, director of policy and planning, and Jenny Quarles, director of instruction and training. The team will work closely with Information and Instructional Technology Services, the Greenwood Library and CAFÉ. The DEC expands on the Longwood Online Technology Institute (LOTI), which assisted faculty in the development of online and hybrid classes for nearly 10 years.

Upcoming plans include hiring ten undergraduates to work as instructional technology collaborators for the 2012-13 academic year. The students will provide technical support to on-campus and distance students and faculty members.